If you host a large Thanksgiving, as I do, then the beginning of November marks the beginning of planning and locating recipes ready to make your menu shine. I annually host a Thanksgiving for about 35 people. (Yes, you read that correctly.) With plenty of planning (and furniture moving) we seem to pull off a delightful day. There are some smart shopping strategies that are the key to making it work. I’m happy to share the process with you.
Prepare the playbook.
Yes, I use a playbook and yes, it comes with me everywhere for the week leading up to, and most definitely the day of, the big meal. My playbook includes recipes for everything I plan to cook and serve, along with cooking times and a blueprint for a successful meal. Regardless of where I source a recipe, I always visit the website to make copying the recipe easy. More importantly, it makes creating the shopping list easy too. When you’re looking for recipes, consider oven space and other factors that may limit what you can cook at once. Also, think about color, texture, and what the final plate will look like.
Create the shopping list.
The good news is that many Thanksgiving recipes call for the same fresh herbs and spices and make use of the same vegetables, which makes the shopping relatively simple. As I gather recipes for my playbook, I create a shopping list on page one. Important tip: add the amount needed to your shopping list (e.g., not just “onions” but “3 large onions”). Once you have you created your (likely large) shopping list, you can go through and combine the repeat ingredients (e.g., “3 large onions” may become “6 large onions”). Thankfully, this will make your list look smaller.
Save time shopping.
You can count on the supermarket being crazy as Thanksgiving nears. While you may not be able to prep much before the big day, you can stock up on some items that can be bought ahead of time (maybe early Saturday or Sunday morning when the store is quieter). Low-sodium chicken stock, root vegetables, spices, and maybe even bread that will be used for stuffing since you’ll want that a bit stale. Of course, you’ll need to plan to return to the store again on Tuesday or Wednesday for fresher ingredients.
Naturally, your guests will want to contribute to your holiday meal. However, after all the effort put into planning and shopping, you may not want other dishes that require heating (or in my case even space on the counter, which comes at a premium!). Take a tip from me on this one and request the essentials that you may not want to think about, such as sparkling water and other holiday beverages, appetizers, dessert, and other items that make your evening easier.